Wednesday, December 22, 2010

One-Piece Wednesday: Stacey Williams, 1993

I love Stacey Williams.

The first time I laid eyes on her, in the 1992 issue, I was seduced by her idealized girl-next-doorness: freckles, turned-up nose, languid brown eyes. She’s in my top five of all time, possibly my favorite model of the 90s.

This photo is from 1993, the “America First” issue, on Mackinac Island.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Exquisite Pairs

A man breaking his journey between one place and another at a third place of no name, character, population or significance, sees a unicorn cross his path and disappear. That in itself is startling, but there are precedents for mystical encounters of various kinds, or to be less extreme, a choice of persuasions to put it down to fancy; until -- “My God,” says a second man, “I must be dreaming, I thought I saw a unicorn.” At which point, a dimension is added that makes the experience as alarming as it will ever be. A third witness, you understand, adds no further dimension but only spreads it thinner, and a fourth thinner still, and the more witnesses there are, the thinner it gets and the more reasonable it becomes until it is as thin as reality, the name we give to the common experience... “Look, look!” recites the crowd. “A horse with an arrow in its forehead! It must have been mistaken for a deer.”

@juliephenderson tweeted this photo a few weeks ago of her and Irina Shayk:Perhaps this means there will be a nice twosome photo shoot?

SI used to do it all the time, but they’ve drifted away from it recently. As the above Tom Stoppard quote touches on, there’s something to be said for two being a more magical number than three (or more).

One photo of, say, Kathy Ireland? Wonderful.One photo of Elle Macpherson? Magnificent.Put the two of them together in a pool? You have the single greatest photograph ever taken.So it follows that if you threw in Rachel Hunter, a woman easily gorgeous enough to hold company with Elle and Kathy, the hotness should continue growing exponentially, right?Well…

It doesn’t. I am not sure why. Maybe you just don’t know where to focus. Maybe the bodies all get in the way of each other. Maybe it’s the difference between the viewer contemplating a ménage à trois (something unlikely but possible) and contemplating an all-out orgy (pure fantasy, never gonna happen).

Reviews were mixed of the 1994 cover, judging from the letters section of the March 14 issue. Rick Duttenhofer of Boca Raton writes, “What a beautiful cover. Good things certainly come in threes.” But Jack Scarangella of New Rochelle retorts, “More is not necessarily better.”

(Philip W. Shoemaker of Raleigh writes, “The women on your cover are beautiful, but Kathy Ireland and Rachel Hunter are in awkward poses that are uncomplimentary to their beauty.” What you and I know, and Philip W. Shoemaker did not, was that Kathy and Rachel were both pregnant. For what it’s worth, I disagree with Phil about Rachel. I think she looks gorgeous. Kathy does look pale, and she spent the whole issue covering her stomach.)

The tipping point is between two and three. Some great pairings have sprung up over the years.Even a couple of covers. Twin sisters Yvette and Yvonne Sylvander in 1976:…and, twenty years later, polar opposites Valeria Mazza and Tyra Banks:(Walter Iooss, in his book Heaven, shares journal entries from his swimsuit shoots. He wrote this about Valeria and Tyra in South Africa: “Shoot (sic) what could be the cover of the issue. Tyra + Valaria (sic) in leapord (sic) bikinis on the beach. B+W girls.” The man is paid to take pictures, not win spelling bees.)

But tip over into three, and it gets awkward.
This was the centerfold of the 1994 issue. Veronica Blume, Rebecca Romijn, and Judit Masco look like they’re watching a child perform a magic trick just off camera.

1992. Ashley Richardson, Shana Zadrick, and Vendela. Those three classic poses: leaping, sunbathing, winking.

1990. Judit Masco, Kathy Ireland, and Akure Wall act out some half-assed cheerleader carwash fantasy sequence.

1989. This is particularly egregious because Rachel Hunter (on the right) is clearly not wearing a thong. She’s been asked to stuff a traditional bikini bottom into the cleft of her buttocks to match the suits of Stephanie Seymour and Maria von Hartz. If it were just her, or just the other two, no such decision would have been made.

And then there are the massive group shots, where you cram models into the frame like college kids into a phone booth. These are for special occasions, like celebrating your 40th anniversary with a “greatest hits” collection:…or showing off twenty years’ worth of cover models:…or realizing that one out of every three Brazilians is a bikini girl:All of these are sexier in theory than in practice. A wall of bikinis will put a smile on your face that there are so many beautiful women in the world. But it kind of becomes wallpaper after that. One or two girls—you’ve got something to concentrate on. So that pic of Julie and Irina is promis—

Uh-oh.I believe this pic was tweeted by MJ Day. The one on the left, if we are to judge by the color of the bikini, is Julie. On the right: that looks like Irina’s face.

Whose butt is in the middle?

Well, at least her suit isn’t stuffed up into it. I guess we’ll find out in February.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Well, It’s a One-Piece

The Swimsuit Issue’s Facebook page recently put up this sneak preview of 2011’s bodypainting excursion. Here’s the mystery model:And, um…


I love a sneak preview, but sometimes it’s better to wait until the cookies are done baking. This looks like a shot taken at a sanatorium during some kind of doomsday plague outbreak.

Let’s cleanse the palate (no pun intended) with a finished product: another painted one-piece, possibly the Platonic ideal of an SI bodypainting pic. Marisa Miller, 2004.And just for fun, here’s Molly Sims having somehow called that swimsuit into existence.
By the way, when SI posted the preview work-in-progress, someone commented that they could see nipple and asked if it was legal. What do you know, the picture seems to have disappeared.

Saturday, December 4, 2010

How Do Ya Like Them Apples?

I recently got myself a copy of Heaven, the collection of Walter Iooss swimsuit photography.

It’s a beautiful book, and one I’d like to get into more deeply at another time. But one thing it has brought to my attention is the existence of a model named Apollonia van Ravenstein.With a name like that, you have to become a model or a supervillain. She opted for the former, appearing in the 1979 issue with her wavy brown tresses and massageable curves.Apparently she was pretty big in the 70s, and her friends called her “Apples.”

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

In Defense of the One-Piece

The bikini gets a lot of press.That makes sense. The swimsuit issue is about scantily clad women. It follows that skimpier is better. Ergo, bikinis are better that one-pieces. QED.

The bikini is the vast majority of suits featured in any recent issue. The 1997 issue was exclusively dedicated to bikinis (an honor that will never be bestowed on one-piecers). There may even be a mild twinge of disappointment when you turn the page and see a girl in a one-piece. “What,” you might ask, “is this fully dressed woman doing in my swimsuit issue?”

But hold on a second.

The one-piece has a charm to it, and not just as a throwback to a more innocent time. More fabric means more surface area, creating a sheath over the model’s body. It’s fun to allow your eyes to caress that landscape—often more coverage means more emphasis on the girl’s angles and curves.

When I hear the word “swimsuit,” a one-piece is what springs to mind. It’s a curvaceous, form-fitting word. And let’s not forget that Elle Macpherson, my favorite model of all time, wore a one-piece on all three of her consecutive covers from 1986-1988.Betty Grable. Farrah Fawcett. Bo Derek. Our own Cheryl Tiegs. A who’s-who of iconic one-piece swimsuit imagery.So in the interest of promoting this much-maligned article of clothing, this also-ran of the swimsuit issue, I hereby introduce One-Piece Wednesday.

On Wednesdays (Every Wednesday? One Wednesday a month? Who knows?) I will celebrate beautiful SI models in one-piece swimsuits. Let’s keep the one-piece from being second fiddle.

(And no, a topless bikini does not count as a one-piece.)